Tuesday, June 10, 2008

O'Reilly Smears the National Conference for Media Reform

As discussed in my previous entry, I will be taking this opportunity to examine Bill O'Reilly's coverage of the National Conference on Media Reform that I attended in Minneapolis this past weekend. O'Reilly had announced on his show last week that he would show his viewers just how "nuts" the people who attended the conference were on Monday evening's broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor". O'Reilly devoted his "Impact Segment" to the conference and proceeded to smear and attack its participants. I will post the video below so you can view the segment, but below I will discuss a few of O'Reilly's claims.

1. O'Reilly begins his segment by labeling the conference the "far left party in Minnesota". This is just the first instance of many throughout the video where O'Reilly and his panelists label the attendees of the conference as "far left", "the lunatic left", "unstable loons", "a threat", and "fascists". These terms are clearly meant to smear the attendees of the conference and do nothing to provide any kind of meaningful debate on the topic at hand. O'Reilly never defines the term "far left" yet uses it as an insult. Perhaps a more meaningful discussion would be one that examines what he views as "far left" and one where he refrains from name calling.

2. O'Reilly states that "these people" have "anti-American views". I was at the conference and the issues at hand are how media consolidation hurts independent media and minority voices, how consolidation has led to sensationalized news coverage and business friendly dumbed down coverage, and how a healthy democracy needs a strong independent media to properly function. I would be interested to hear Mr. O'Reilly's views on how these issues are "anti-American".

3. O'Reilly plays three sound bytes of coverage from the conference, yet fails to put any of the statements into context or launch a discussion of the points raised in the video clips.

4. This point is a glaring one and probably one of the most important: both of O'Reilly's guests were not at the conference yet speak as if they have the authority to tell viewers what the goals and aims of the conference were. This not only lacks journalistic integrity, but leads to a complete misrepresentation of what the conference was about. Perhaps a more "fair and balanced" look would be to have on either an organizer of the conference or even an attendee.

5. O'Reilly states that the attendees are a "threat" to America and have done a lot of damage. I would ask, in what way is promoting more independence in the media a threat to America? His panelist, Mary Katherine Ham, then states that the attendees believe that "conservatives have entirely too much control" in the media. This is blatantly false. The conference has nothing to do with giving liberal voices more say while attempting to smother conservative voices. It is about the excessive corporate control of the airwaves and the need for the people to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. The people at the conference believe that it is important to have a deeper discussion about issues (from all political ideologies) instead of dividing issues into categories like "left" and "right" which this segment clearly does.

6. Bill O'Reilly states that "they don't want any dissenting voices" and that they "want to shut Fox News up." Who is it that does not want dissenting voices...a group that dissents from corporatist policies or a cable "news" show that doesn't have equal representation amongst guests? It also needs to be made clear that it is not about "shutting Fox News up", but holding them accountable for misrepresentations and lies that are told, as illustrated in this very segment. Later in the video Mary Katherine Ham says "they want to use the government to shut down conservative voices...it's totally fascist"...once again, a lie.

7. It is stated that Fox News is the "most fair" network because Hillary Clinton's campaign chair and John McCain have both said so. This naturally doesn't make it so and Juan Williams makes statements about independent pollsters coming to the same conclusion without citing a report or giving a link to any of these reports.

8. Juan Williams states that the attendees of the conference are "making it difficult to have a civil, logical discussion" when discussing the future of the country. I would consider a civil discussion one without name calling, something this segment fails to do. I would consider a logical discussion one that presents views from someone at the conference in question and does not misrepresent and lie about the issue at hand. This segment fails on this front as well.

9. Ham states that the Bill Moyers and Dan Rather gave "Orwellian speeches" at the event because they stated that they want greater diversity in the media. She then states "they don't, they want to shut it down..." Yet she provides no evidence for this claim, she simply states it is so and the segment ends.

As you can once again see, the type of journalism on display on "The O'Reilly Factor" and Fox News is appalling and leads to false representations of the topic at hand. This segment is not balanced and it is simply meant to be an attack piece with opinion stated as fact and no discussion on the actual contents of the National Conference on Media Reform. It is dishonest and a disgraceful display of the exact type of media that the attendees of the conference wishes to reform.

Also note, that nowhere in that segment is the ambush of Bill Moyers as discussed in my previous blog. This is where the second video comes in...O'Reilly waits to show a :15 second clip of the ambush in his "Body Language" segment where he attacks Moyers while discussing his body language. As you can plainly see, the footage is heavily edited and O'Reilly is free to attack Moyers personally while not addressing anything that was said during the ambush.

Check out both videos below and feel free to share your views. I would love to hear from you.

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